Tournament Previews 19-25 August

There are just the two tournaments this week as we are in the week immediately prior to the US Open.  

In the men’s tournament in Winston Salem, favourites tend do reasonably well. 

They’ve won 67% in my sample which is above the hard court 250 average of 61%.  Many people consider that the better players have a high chance of tanking in these tournaments immediately prior to a Grand Slam but those figures dispute that assertion.

Last year at this venue, service hold was high with 82.0% service games held.  This is a fair bit above the current 12 month ATP hard court average of 78.7%.

There’s a 48 man field but you can cross a line through the vast majority of entrants when looking for a potential winner.

Based on my projected hold analysis, this is Tomas Berdych’s tournament to lose.  However his price at 3.50 reflects that.  He has got to the semi final or final in the last three tournaments he has played in the week preceding the start of a Grand Slam so it’s clear that he’s unlikely to tank this week.  He lost to John Isner in last year’s final.

Isner is second favourite at 5.50 and has a superb 10-0 venue record  having won both tournaments played here, but he surely needs a break after playing an awful lot of tennis recently.  I can’t encourage any backing of him.

Other players I’m willing to draw a line through immediately are Fernando Verdasco, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Juan Monaco, Jurgen Melzer, Tommy Robredo and Andreas Seppi (the second seed) who all the last 12 months have not broken their opponents more than they’ve been broken themselves on hard courts. 

I feel that there could be at least one if not several big priced semi finalists with the bottom half of the draw looking particularly weak.

Yen-Hsun Lu has a winnable quarter having already advanced to the second round with an early match on Sunday.   Today he faces the Spanish claycourter, Pablo Andujar, before a likely third round match with Seppi.  He’s available at 100/1 (101) and getting to the quarter-finals at least appears a real possibility.

Edouard Roger-Vasselin is another at 100/1 who can benefit from a very open draw facing another Spanish claycourter, Daniel Gimeno-Traver, in his opener, before facing the out of form Dolgopolov next.  He then, if seedings are accurate, faces Juan Monaco in the third round.  The Argentine has a horrific hard court record in the last 12 months and cannot be considered a threat on for any hard court tournament currently.

These players, should they get past these hurdles, would then play each other in the quarter finals.

Gael Monfils has a decent draw in the third quarter as well, and he gets a first round bye before taking on a poor clay courter in Leonardo Mayer or Guido Pella in the second round.  He’s likely to face Denis Istomin in the third round before a quarter final against a variety of mediocre opponents (Verdasco, Haase or Rosol possibly).  He’d then take on the player from the Lu/Roger-Vasselin quarter in the semi-finals.  If the enigmatic Frenchman wants it, a final berth is his for the taking.  He can be backed at 13.00 (12/1) for the tournament.

In the women’s Premier event in New Haven, the field isn’t as good quality as last week’s Premier event in Cincinnati.

We can judge projected holds on each players merits pretty much, with last year’s service hold being 62.2 (slightly below the current 12 month hard court WTA average of 62.9%).   

Caroline Wozniacki has a magnificent record at this tournament winning the event four times in a row from 2008-2011.  Last year injury curtailed her ambitions of 5 wins in a row in the semi-finals, but even with her being out of form to an extent, she cannot be ruled out of contention this week.

Last year’s winner, Petra Kvitova, also hasn’t been in the best of touch either, but is the very slight tournament favourite at 7.50 (13/2).  This promises to be an open tournament, especially when you consider that the top seed is Sara Errani, who doesn’t play her best on hard courts and there are 10 players with odds under 20/1!

One player I want to keep on my side is Simona Halep.  She’s in great form this year and actually has the best hard court stats of any of the entrants here in 2013.  With her being in the first quarter of the draw, meaning that she faces the weakest of the top four seeds in a potential quarter final (Errani) this is also in her favour and I think she can do well for us at a starting price of 15.00 (14/1).

Caroline Wozniacki is scheduled to meet her in the semi-finals and with the Dane coming back into a little bit of form last week in Cincinnati and having an excellent record here, I strongly feel that one of these players gets to the final she she can be backed at 8.00 (7/1).

Also in this quarter is the interesting Elina Svitolina and she is a player I really like, who I feel has great future potential.  She has an excellent hard court record from the 15 games she’s played on the surface on the main tour in the last 12 months (winning 11) and recently took home the Baku title for her maiden WTA tournament win.  I’m stopping short of recommending her at 67.00 (66/1) because she has a tough draw but if you want a real outsider to back here I can think of plenty worse than her.

The bottom half of the draw is tough to call.  I don’t have an over-riding preference on any player in particular.  Angelique Kerber I feel is vulnerable currently and should Elena Vesnina have been in better form currently I’d have considered recommending her at 34.00 (33/1) in an anti-Kerber play.   Dominika Cibulkova and Sabine Lisicki I find over-rated generally and again here, so there’s no reason why Petra Kvitova cannot get to the final at least.  Considering she’s the defending champion she will have plenty of motivation defending ranking points and I’m also going to tentatively recommend her at 7.50 (13/2) to add to the portfolio.

This week’s recommended bets:

ATP Winston Salem:-

Back Tomas Berdych at 5/2

Back to lay Yen-Hsun Lu at 100/1

Back to lay Edouard Roger-Vasselin at 100/1

Back Gael Monfils (possibly laying in the final) at 12/1

WTA New Haven:-

Back Simona Halep at 14/1 (optional free bet creation or some profit taking is fine at the semi-final stage)

Back Caroline Wozniacki at 7/1

Back Petra Kvitova at 13/2

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